Finding Minnesota: New Ulm’s Fasching & Bock Festivals

NEW ULM, Minn. (WCCO) — Wishing for warmer weather hasn’t brought much change, so maybe goats, beer poking and even a kidnapping can help.

The city of New Ulm has two big festivals on the last Saturday before Lent, designed to hasten the arrival of spring.

One of them, Fasching, is a German Mardi Gras with costumed characters known as the Narren. They “kidnap” the mayor in the morning then take over the streets, trying to warm things up.

“Oh yes, we have our brooms and we sweep away the winter,” said one character who goes by the name Tanta Anna. “So much snow and cold, yeah we really need to do a lot of sweeping.”

New Ulm’s Fasching celebration also features music, dancing and German food throughout the day at Turner Hall.

On the same day, as many as 6,000 people will drink outside and listen to live music at the annual Bock Fest.

Bock, the German word for goat, is a type of amber beer that will be flowing outside the August Schell Brewery.

“This is the city of festivals,” said Jodi Marti, Schell’s Special Projects Coordinator. “And we like to have fun.”

Bock Fest will have four bonfires with red hot pokers in them. Workers stick those pokers in people’s mugs of beer to bring an interesting change.

“You swirl it around and it caramelizes all the flavors,” said Marti. “It’ll foam up and changes it totally.”

Meanwhile, some wooden goat heads will be hidden in Flandrau State Park, which is next to the brewery.

“If we find all seven of them, winter will end quickly and sweet. That’s the story,” Marti said.

To make sure the searchers don’t get thirsty, human St. Bernards will wander the park, with portable tanks of beer.

Admission to Bock Fest is $10. Fasching costs $7 at the door and $5 in advance.

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